However setting up of The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Wills and Probate Registry has introduced new internationally-recognized common law principles that will allow non-Muslim individuals owning assets within Dubai to freely dispose of their Dubai estate in the event of their death and will further benefit those wishing to hold financial and real estate assets in Dubai.
The new registry allows non-Muslims expatriates over the age of 21 to register wills written in English in the DIFC Courts, doing away with the current need for translating wills into Arabic and having them attested by a local notary public. Only assets in Dubai can be included in wills registered in the DIFC Wills & Probate Registry.
On death of the testator, the DIFC Wills & Probate Registry will issue a Probate regarding Dubai assets based on the Will registered with the registry and said probate will be executable in the Emirate of Dubai. This thus gives certainty over transfer of all assets including immoveable properties based in Dubai to the beneficiary named in the Will.
The services of the new registry are AED 10,000/- for single will and AED 15,000/- for a mirror will (husband & wife), excluding legal and professional fees for drafting of will.
The rules are largely drawn from the UK’s administration of estates law and on similar legislation in other common law jurisdictions including Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Registering such a will at the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry brings the benefit of promoting investment in the region and avoid family members becoming involved in uncertain proceedings that can be encountered in the UAE Courts. The DIFC procedure is based upon ‘common law’ principles whereby a testator has freedom to dispose of their estate, rather than being subject to any specific legal rules regarding distribution or a forced heirship regime.
A system of precedents will result in an orderly administrative process of a deceased non-Muslim’s estate in Dubai. This, in turn, will provide a greater degree of certainty in the handling of such inheritance cases in the future.
Some important points to note regarding the will that can be registered at DIFC Wills & Probate Registry:
- The DIFC Wills and Probate Registry marks the introduction of a new set of rules relating to succession and inheritance matters for non-Muslims with assets in Dubai.
- It provides a mechanism for non-Muslims with assets in Dubai only to pass on their estates according to their wishes.
- The rules governing the registry complements existing UAE laws on inheritance for non-Muslims, and provide non-Muslims with the option and right to choose the way in which their estates are distributed.
- The registry is within the DIFC jurisdiction and will work with the DIFC Courts for the production of grants and court orders for the distribution of assets. As the grant is issued by the DIFC Court, it will be directly enforceable in Dubai without the need to go through the Dubai Courts.
- The DIFC is the first jurisdiction in the MENA region, where non-Muslims can register a will under internationally recognized common law principles.
The current thought is that the Registry will register the wills of non-Muslims and, once they are informed of someone’s death, will issue the necessary court orders to allow for the distribution of the deceased’s Dubai based assets. This will also include court orders relating to Guardianship with everything carried out in accordance with the registered will.